Scientific Director

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Appointment of Scientific Director 

The Netherlands Cancer Institute is seeking to appoint a Scientific Director to lead its internationally acclaimed research community in making a strong and enduring contribution to their mission of finding a cure for every cancer and delivering excellent care for every patient.

Their integrated approach combines a specialised cancer hospital (Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, AVL) with a cutting-edge research institute (NKI), together creating an environment where innovation thrives: The Netherlands Cancer Institute. At the Netherlands Cancer Institute, researchers and clinicians work closely together, ensuring a seamless flow of ground-breaking discoveries from the lab to clinical practice. The Netherlands Cancer Institute actively engages in national and international collaborations, recognising that global cooperation is essential to forge breakthroughs in cancer research.

The Netherlands Cancer Institute has 3,450 employees, some 720 of whom are engaged in basic and translational research, roughly divided over 52 research groups and 6 research themes. In addition, the hospital employs a dedicated team of more than 400 specialised nurses and 275 specialised medical doctors, and the dedicated cancer facility hosts approximately 13,000 new patients and over 120,000 patient visits annually.

The Scientific Director plays a crucial role in positioning NKI on both national and international stages by forging strategic partnerships, thereby increasing the institution’s impact. The Scientific Director will serve as a member of the Executive Board and simultaneously hold the role of a tenured senior group leader within NKI.


Scientific Leadership and Vision

The Scientific Director plays a pivotal role in formulating a visionary and sustainable scientific agenda. This agenda emphasises research excellence and impact and promotes synergy among fundamental, translational, and clinical research.
Acting as a scientific leader, the Scientific Director serves as the institution’s representative, wielding significant scientific authority in administrative discussions.
The Scientific Director inspires academic and clinical communities across NKI and partner institutions, with a key focus on attracting world-class scientists and clinicians while expanding international collaborations.
The Scientific Director supervises major research evaluations and funding proposals, ensuring the continued excellent standard of research.

Organisational Leadership

In close collaboration with the other Executive Board members, the Scientific Director provides leadership at NKI. The Scientific Director oversees various sectors and departments, including scientific units, research themes, research facilities such as the laboratory and animal facility, and the provision of scientific information, including the cancer library.
The Scientific Director NKI serves as the point of contact for the Scientific Staff Advisory Council.
The Scientific Director champions a high-performance, open organisational culture that emphasises excellence, results, innovation, and collaboration, ensuring all staff members can realise their full potential.

External Engagement

The Scientific Director actively advances scientific innovation and strategic development at NKI by cultivating and, when needed, establishing collaborations on regional, national, and international levels. In more detail, the Scientific Director:

Fosters external relations with healthcare and clinical partners, knowledge institutions, research institutions, research consortia, funding bodies, education authorities, and governmental bodies.
Maintains strong relations with the main funding body – the KWF Dutch Cancer Society.
Identifies and engages with international scientific groups to expand the NKI’s international influence.
Strengthens the connections with strategic industrial partners involved in various aspects of cancer research such as pharma, biotech, and MedTech.
Seeks opportunities for research growth and increased revenue through strategic collaborations.

The Scientific Director serves as the NKI’s spokesperson for fundamental and translational research and maintains a prominent external profile as a leading global institute in cancer research.

Selection Criteria


The Scientific Director of NKI is an internationally renowned scientist with a PhD, MD, or equivalent qualification in the broad field of cancer research. They must have a proven track record in fundamental and translational research.


The successful candidate will have held relevant leadership roles in a biomedical research organisation or other complex organisations and will have led their own research group.
The Scientific Director has a deep understanding of the complex ecosystem in which NKI operates, including experience working with partners in knowledge organisations, healthcare, industry, and government organisations.
The successful candidate has experience in securing grants from national and international funding organisations, in particular within the European funding landscape, as well as with commercial R&D to remain at the forefront of discovery science.


The successful candidate acts as a visionary architect with a compelling vision for the future of cancer research and treatment. They can inspire the academic community by effectively retaining existing scientists and attracting talent.
The candidate can drive changes whilst staying closely connected with the staff. This includes being transparent, involving others in decision-making, and ensuring that the chosen strategy is effectively implemented.
It is crucial that the candidate firmly believes in the power of collegial governance and is open to feedback and coaching regarding their behaviour and its impact on the organisation.

Stakeholder Management and Relationships

The ideal candidate can demonstrate a strong level of emotional intelligence and the capability to recognise significant relationships within the NKI and its stakeholders, including the skill to leverage them for a competitive edge.


The ideal candidate possesses strong communication and interpersonal skills. The candidate has the capacity to serve as a role model and create traction for their vision.

Terms of Employment

As senior group leader, the Scientific Director will be a tenured member of the NKI; the appointment as Scientific Director as such will be offered for a period of four years, with the possibility of re-election for another term.  

Appointment Process and How to Apply

An executive search exercise is being undertaken by Perrett Laver to assist the Appointment Committee in identifying the widest possible field of qualified candidates and assisting in the assessment of candidates against the requirements for the role.

Informal enquiries and questions can be directed to Tiziano Sartor at +31 (0) 20 240 4370 or by emailing Applications can be uploaded at, quoting reference number 7016. The closing date for applications is at 9 am CET on Thursday 4th January.

Applications should consist of a cover letter addressing suitability against the person’s specifications and a full curriculum vitae.

Applications will be considered by the Appointment Committee in December. Perrett Laver will conduct preliminary discussions with longlisted candidates in January, and the Committee will then meet at the end of January to decide on a shortlist of candidates. These individuals will subsequently be invited for formal interviews in February. Selection of and negotiations with the preferred candidate will take place thereafter.

A development assessment can be part of the procedure.

As defined under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Perrett Laver is a Data Controller and a Data Processor, and our legal basis for processing your personal data is ‘Legitimate Interest’. For more information about this, your rights, and our approach to Data Protection and Privacy, please visit our website

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